Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you know, our current Interim Ministry is all about Church Growth. I continue to reach out to those who are sceptical about Christianity and continue to try and help everyone in our church community become more knowledgeable about God as revealed to us in the person of Jesus. I’m passionate about enabling adults and children to flourish in the knowledge that God is, and that you are loved. I love that from this starting point, the uniqueness of each of us becomes a blessing on the world around us. As we become a blessing, more people will be drawn into this living, growing and changing relationship with God.
We are hopeful that the Diocese of Leeds will renew our Interim Ministry for three more years. Bishop Jonathan tells me that this will be the first time the Diocese of Leeds has extended an Interim Ministry. He also said, if we are offered another three years, the focus is highly likely to continue to be growth, but with an additional emphasis on sustainability.
There has been some discussion in Anglican circles about what sort of churches grow. Some leaders think that every church must run an Alpha course, or Messy Church, or be open 24 hours a day. However, what has been discovered is that the church grows when the church is comfortable talking about Jesus. Essentially: talking about Jesus scatters and plants seeds, which grow into questions and conversations about faith.
Last year, Val France, Sara Brown, Joanna and I spent three days at a conference learning about church growth. We want to share this with you, so we have condensed the three days into what we felt was the essence of the course. We will be holding a Whole-Benefice Service followed by a Church Growth Course for everyone from Upper Slaithwaite (Shred), St James and St Bartholomew’s on these two dates:
Sessions 1 and 2: Sunday 12 June: St James, Slaithwaite
Sessions 3 and 4: Sunday 3 July: St Bartholomew’s, Marsden
We will celebrate Holy Communion at 10am and those who wish to stay will be able to have a light lunch. The Church Growth Course is for everyone and will run from 11am to 3pm.
I’d like to reassure you that the course we are doing is not about telling anyone what to do… rather it is about coming together as three unique and wonderful churches to share resources and to discover what growth looks like as we work on this together. I expect there will be questions, such as:
- What is already happening?
- What is unfruitful, and costly in terms of physical energy and money?
- What possibilities are we excited about?
- What things are sustaining us?
Each of us has different gifts from God and each of us has different things we might enjoy focussing on. This isn’t about being busy, but about growing as a church and growing in faith personally. Some of the ministries we might discover are:
- Praying for growth
- Serving the community we live in
- Following up on baptisms, marriages and funerals
- Helping with the organisation of Sunday worship
- Cleaning the church / laundry of sacramental cloths
- Learn to talk about Jesus in public
- Training to be Readers and Licensed Lay Leaders, or even Ordained if that call is discerned
- Developing a choir
- Spending more time with families and school children
- Focus on social justice or environmental justice, writing letters and campaigning.
- There may also be whole new ways I can’t even imagine because God is so generous that whatever your personal energy, gifts and resources… there is a role for everyone.
My experience of responding to God’s call is this: God provides… the support of others is both essential and affirming… God has yet to ask me for more than I can bear… sometimes we don’t know where we are going until we get there and look back. In all of this, some of us may want to do more, some of us may want to do less. The key is that whatever we do, we do it together. Afterall, we are church.
God bless you, Graeme.